The national security brains behind the GOP candidates
November 18th, 2011
12:06 PM ET

The national security brains behind the GOP candidates

Editor's note: On November 22, CNN, along with conservative think tanks AEI and The Heritage Foundation, will host a Republican candidate debate focused on national security topics.

By Senior State Department Producer Elise Labott

There are a few models for presidential candidates seeking to bone up on national security issues.

First, there's the George W. Bush model.  You hire a lean, high-powered team of foreign policy heavyweights to help hammer out foreign policy, defense and intelligence proposals.  The Vulcans, as the Bush team was called, included former Secretary of State George Shultz and Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice and Paul Wolfowitz.  They traded e-mail messages and held conference calls and meetings at the then-Texas governor's mansion, where they hammered out his national security positions.  Once in office, the majority of the Vulcans became Bush's national security team.

Then there's the Barack Obama model, which sucks up all the foreign policy talent in Washington to present an impressive front about the candidate's expertise, thereby denying the privilege to his competitors.  Obama was in a brain arms race with Hillary Clinton, who had a similar approach, in the '08 primary.  It's like the annual Filene's Basement wedding dress sale.  When the doors open, brides rush to scoop up all of the dresses they can find, regardless of the style or fit, depriving fellow brides a dress in case they may want it later.

The problem with this approach is that you have no idea what the bride will look like on her wedding day.

Take Mitt Romney, whose impressive foreign policy brain trust reads like one of a presumptive nominee, and is by far the most extensive of all the Republican candidates this election cycle.

His team of 22 special advisers is heavy on Bush administration veterans, including such marquee names as former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and ex-CIA Director Michael Hayden.  He's also tapped former Republican senators such as Minnesota's Norm Coleman and Jim Talent of Missouri, as well as several prominent former State Department officials like Elliot Cohen, who was an adviser to Rice, former Under Secretary Paula Obriansky, and Pierre Prosper, once ambassador-at-large for war crimes.  Romney also announced 13 working groups on key issues and regions with prominent professors and think-tank scholars.

A common criticism is that such committees are for show, and the members have little to do with actual policy platforms.  Yet Romney advisers say they were pleasantly surprised that their ideas found their way into Romney's "white paper," the most detailed foreign policy platform issued so far by any candidate.

The strength of Romney's team, however, could also be a weakness. While extremely experienced, it runs the spectrum from the far right to the center.  Some Republican foreign policy gurus worry the group is so ideologically diverse, it lacks clarity of vision.

"Romney's team is almost too broad, it's soulless," worried one GOP foreign policy expert who has informally advised the Romney campaign. "You don't know what direction he would go and some conservatives are worried it could be analysis paralysis."

Richard Williamson - a former envoy to Sudan and deputy ambassador to the United Nations under Bush who is now a top foreign policy adviser to Romney - disagrees.  As a young staffer for President Ronald Reagan, Williamson found a president with a firm world view but open to a robust debate on issues.

"Gov. Romney is the same way," Williamson said. "His framework is 'America is exceptional and is better off leading.'  So he is willing to debate clarity of interest and then decides what the best steps to take are. I think that is comforting and is a good aspect of leadership."

Several of the biggest gets in the Washington foreign policy establishment have not endorsed or signed up to formally advise any candidate.  They include former Vice President Dick Cheney and his daughter Liz Cheney, as well as former US ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton. Bolton, sources say, has been sought out by nearly every campaign and could play a major role in a Republican administration.

But the fact that so many people have lined up behind Romney puts the other candidates at a disadvantage, particularly Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a relative newcomer to foreign policy.

Perry's chief foreign policy adviser, Victoria Coates, a book researcher for Donald Rumsfeld, has set up briefings with several Bush administration heavyweights, such as former ambassador to NATO Kurt Volker, ex-Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith, a former National Security Council senior director, William Luti, and several people who were Pentagon officials under Rumsfeld. He's also spoken with several generals in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Yet a roster of Perry's foreign policy team has yet to come out of the woodwork.  One Perry campaign adviser said that while Perry has avoided publicizing his wide pool of advice, he expects in the next month to issue a targeted list of a dozen former diplomats and military officials, "reformers who, like Governor Perry, are unabashed in their support for American exceptionalism and have no sympathy for the neo-isolationist tendencies of some of the other candidates."

Some of the candidates with the most clearly articulated foreign policies aren't relying on advisers. As House speaker, Gingrich tackled U.S. interventions in Bosnia, Kosovo and Haiti, and was a key supporter of North American Free Trade Agreement and other major Clinton-era trade deals.  And he has a doctorate in European history.  So it's not surprising Newt's chief foreign policy adviser is himself.

The same goes for Jon Huntsman, the former governor from Utah and three-time ambassador, most recently to China, who is campaigning on his unique credibility on global affairs. Randy Schriver, a former chief of staff to Richard Armitage who runs Huntsman's foreign policy shop, says his boss prefers to keep his own counsel.

"He's a very savvy policy analyst and is comfortable coming up with his own position," Schriver said. "That isn't the case with other candidates. He doesn't need a campaign structure that has an expert for every region because Governor Huntsman is an expert himself."

Rick Santorum, a former senator from Pennsylvania who spent eight years on the Senate Armed Service Committee, also seems to draw from his own experience for his policy positions.

Given Herman Cain's slip ups on foreign affairs, many have wondered aloud about his foreign policy team, led by J.D. Gordon, a former military spokesman and Fox News commentator.

"He may have thought foreign policy is just not going to move this election," said Chris Preble, vice president for foreign policy and defense studies at the libertarian Cato Institute, of Cain's initial blunders on foreign policy.  "He probably decided initially that it wasn't that important, but has learned that other people think it is important, so he will have to make up some ground."

Gordon said he is arranging conference calls for his candidate around the clock and culling one-page briefing papers from experts far and wide to educate Cain on everything from the Arab Spring to relations with Russia. He says the candidate's many gaffes on national security are less about the quality of advice and more due to the lack of time to cram on issues about which he isn't familar with the finer points.

"He believes he will be a good president," said Gordon, who described Cain as a Reagan conservative believing in "peace through strengthen and clarity." In a recent conversation with Henry Kissenger, the former Secretary of State told the candidate the most important things he needs are the right philosophy and the right advisers

"The campaign took off in popularity so quickly before we had a chance to heavily focus on the foreign policy briefs. He is getting up to speed, day by day. We are working hard to get him there fast enough due to our whirlwind schedule. Considering where he is today from where he started, it is impressive," Gordon said.  "He is doing his homework."

The campaigns of Rep. Ron Paul of Texas and Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota have released little information about who is advising the candidates on foreign policy.  Bachmann sits on the House intelligence committee which gives a good grounding in many national security issues.  This summer Paul, who has staked out the strongest isolationist position, announced constitutional and international law scholar Bruce Fein was advising his campaign on the "dangers to national security of an increasingly interventionist foreign policy."

Richard Grenell, a former spokesman for four U.S. ambassadors to the United Nations and a GOP commentator, said that, on the whole, Republican primary voters have fewer presidential choices this year if the party wants to maintain its traditional advantage on national security issues.

"The foreign policy blunders by some of the GOP candidates would overshadow Obama's weaknesses and mistakes," Grenell said.  "I don't believe that a candidate has to know the name of every head of state to be effective in representing the U.S. abroad and keeping Americans safe.  There are advantages to having a fresh perspective on old conflicts. But you have to take the time to understand the critical facts."

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Filed under: 2012 Election • Bachman • Cain • debate • Foreign Policy • Gingrich • Huntsman • Paul • Perry • Romney • Santorum
soundoff (615 Responses)
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  4. Donnel Fenton

    majority of candidates are followers of the Bush(s) and Clinton New World order. They want to finish off
    Social Security Trust fund. Allow the abusive Patriot act forcing the people to give up their Constitutional rights.
    Both parties allowing US Supreme court to allow politicians to accept unlimited corporate funds/donations. Allowing
    AT&T(the new trend) and other corporations to Force arbitration on the people, replacing due process/court. Allowing
    judicial immunities to judges, prosecutors and their appointed friends to file false evidence, no warrant/bail bond
    arrests. Check out web-few of these arests prior to 2004-now hundreds growing daily-to MUTE YOU.
    So who will you vote for-the best or be a good groupie and check all party candidates.

    November 28, 2011 at 2:46 pm | Reply
  5. SEAL Team Alpha and Omega

    Lots of pointing the finger for destroying our economy but these morons completely avoid and ignore the fact that Bush raided the Social Security Funds and then pushed America into 2 unnecessary wars costing 450 $Billion and rising weekly. They keep ignoring the FACT that they want the middle-class to make financial sacrifices but give unconscionable tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans.

    I had to force myself to watch one hour of this nonsense and outright lies, but I kept a puke bucket by the sofa to throw up in every time one of these idiots attempted to make America believe they knew what they were talking about.

    Not one of these DNA mutant retarded freaks knows anything about what Intel President Obama gets daily and they never will know. These GOP brain dead Fascists are clueless. What is disturbing is that Bachman is on the Intel Committee and she should know at least something about what the DoD and Intel Community do and carry out at Obama's direction, but all she does is steer America away from the truth that he is fighting harder than anybody to protect Americans here and abroad. She is a disgusting puke face disgrace and deserves to trip on a step and break her neck.

    They all lie about how they protect the rich and about Obama's patriotism and leadership. I wouldn't want to be in the same city as these morons because I am afraid I might accidently have to share the same air they breathe.

    That hall was full of the most government hating crowd ever assembled at a GOP debate. They want Obama to fail and they are pissed that he sent in SEAL Team Six and did what Bush never tried to do – kill bin Laden. Now they are blaming Obama for not doing anything. I wish a meteorite would fall from heaven and wipe out every GOP candidate while they are standing at a debate wasting their breath and America’s time.

    November 23, 2011 at 1:53 am | Reply
  6. Sebastian

    I hope they have BIG world maps for this one!

    November 21, 2011 at 2:53 pm | Reply
  7. emmydogg

    I am not sure there is a lot brains here, not knowing about Libya? come on

    November 21, 2011 at 1:15 pm | Reply
  8. xyz198155

    "This summer Paul, who has staked out the strongest isolationist position"
    The editor does not really understand Ron Paul's stance on national security. He is not talking about US isolationism.
    Ron Paul's stance is as follows:
    1) Do not try and assert your militarism on the world by sending your troops and setting up bases in foreign countries, that would be counter productive, that does not serve our security it only stirs up hatred among other countries for the US.
    2) US is bankrupt and there is no way to sustain these foreign bases or sustain these wars. There is no money in the coffers – "Hello" – we are broke.
    3) Use Submarines to protect/serve our interests rather than troops.
    4) Stop this stupid war propoganda about stuff which is simply a lie. Eg. nuclear weapons in iraq which was a complete lie.

    November 21, 2011 at 1:16 am | Reply
    • Chris

      look the media understands paul.. they know exactly what he stands for... but if they didnt listen to the dudes who pump in ad revenue then they wouldnt have jobs.. so if "the man" says belittle ron paul.. then thats what they do... Ron Paul simply needs to circumvent the media and campaign the old fashion way in the early primary states and let the media try after all they have said about unelectable and yada yada that why has he taken two of the three early major primaries... yes folks the media is trying to manufacture consesnus get over it... they have been doing it for years... but alas you have brains no use them and spsread pauls good word...

      November 21, 2011 at 9:55 am | Reply
    • Cecil

      Came across this list of questions for the foreign policy debate... it's extremely comprehensive! What are you most looking forward to hearing about? http://americanactionforum.org/topic/gop-foreign-policy-debate-questions

      November 21, 2011 at 11:53 am | Reply
    • Chris

      xyz again i say dont waste your time... they know exactly what they are saying is wrong they are doing it on purpose.. but you have a brain us it.. instead of being on here being mad at CNN for listening to the corps instead of the people you should be phone banking for ron paul....

      November 21, 2011 at 12:45 pm | Reply
    • 4148

      tell a friend about ron paul and tell that friend to let others know about him. lets change the country the more people that know about what is going on in Washington the better. american is not Washington but each one of us.

      November 21, 2011 at 7:03 pm | Reply
      • xyz198155

        Agree with all of your points. Media is corrupted!!

        November 22, 2011 at 7:08 am |
  9. Tough USA

    Romney getting blasted on CNN now by democrats. Nothing new . He flip floped on gay rights, gun control, pro life. He backed the bailouts and Obama will include his national health care that he now does not want. His staff that constructed Romneycare structured Obamacare. Romney has a better chance in getting employment at McDonalds than being president. He is currently falling in Iowa and now in New Hampshire

    November 20, 2011 at 8:31 pm | Reply
    • holly

      Romney will make a great president, why don't you read Romney's book or educate yourself, you have no idea what this man is about. He has more character than any of the other candidates, look at his family life for one. When a person is evolving you do not always stay with the same philosophy or ideas, hopefully you grow and learn as you go through life.

      November 20, 2011 at 10:05 pm | Reply
      • Sam.DCS

        Wait a minute Holly. I used to like Mitt until he got scared of his own party for having compassion and he switched completely to a heartless, NON-Christian, money hungry right wing nut! A question is, Will any of us take this money to heaven? We found it here on Earth and we will leave it hear on Earth, why not let's share and enjoy each other's time. How much exactly is enough: 1-10 million/yr; 11-20 million/yr; 1billion/yr? In the eye of God, we are ALL equal, we are all sinners regardless your social status.
        I hope Mitt will stop catering to the right wing-Tea party nuts and campaign according to his conscience. He’s a Mormon for crying out, where is his compassion and love to others?

        November 21, 2011 at 4:14 pm |
      • Texas Uncensored

        Romney won't be the nominee to run. He isn't 'all that'. Romney says only what he has to at the time to appease whatever audience is listening. You should also look into the Ponzi scheme he was involved in, and the illegal election acitivity between he, Rick Perry, and financier Bob Perry. It's called money laundering.
        As I'm sure you are aware, major corporations connected to the FED and the military industrial complex orchestrated the collapse of the world economy. You remember Goldman Suchs? Credit Suisse? Morgan Stanley? BOA? Crooks, all of them, who use the money they stole from the world economies, meaning us, to buy candidates who then promise to give them p osition and authority over policies once elected. Guess who Goldman Suchs, Credit Suisse, Morgan Stanley, and BOA have bought? Mitt Romney. That's right. the same people who bought Obama and run the government now, are buying Romney as their front man if he is elected. Thank God, he won't be.
        You can find similar money facts if you choose to l ook them up. All of the other candidates are as dirty, or more so, except for One. That is Ron Paul, who is funded by hundreds of thousands of American citizens and active military. Twice as much in active military donations as all of the other GOP candidates, and more that all of the GOP candidates and Obama combined.
        You have a lot of homework to do before you can cast an honest, informed vote. If, after becoming informed, you vote for any of the other owned candidates, you are responsible for the continued downfall and continued never ending wars. Please, pay for that out of your own pocket, and with the blood of your own children and grandchildren.
        As for me, I am voting for peace, prosperity, protection of our civil rights, bringing all of the troops home, and respect for the law of the land, our Constitution. You will not consign my progeny to endless wars and a police state run by a cabal of corporations.
        I vote RON PAUL 2012

        November 22, 2011 at 1:53 am |
      • Hawk in Texas

        Yeah, Like his 5 sons that were too busy politicking for dear old dad that they could not join the military right after 9-11. and here it is 2011 and none of them have volunteered for the service yet. a real paitrotic family, what.

        November 22, 2011 at 11:23 pm |
  10. carlos

    Cain, the black Bush. Actually Cain is dumber than Bush, I didnt know it was possible to have someone dumber than Bush.

    November 20, 2011 at 8:09 pm | Reply
    • xyz198155

      Contrary to what many people thought, Bush was actually a pretty smart guy... He was only acting like he was dumb!!

      November 21, 2011 at 1:20 am | Reply
      • Myles

        are you kidding me he said "the thing we need to ask ourselfs, is are children learning?" that with a millionj other baffels stand in contridiction to your statment!

        November 21, 2011 at 11:50 am |
    • Hawk in Texas

      Thats easy. PERRY>

      November 22, 2011 at 11:24 pm | Reply
  11. SEAL Team Alpha and Omega

    Oh my God! Is Condescending “Connie” Rice kidding me? She is CrAzY!! What is she talking about and mean by saying, “Candidates should ‘appear’ interested in foreign policy!? Shouldn’t someone running for POTUS actually “be” seriously interested in foreign policy?????!!! What a ditzy woman. Please don’t raise the dead from the agonizing Bush years. No more Condie, please, NO MORE CONDIE!!!! We can’t take another minute of remembrance of the worst administration in U.S. history. She was a main contributing moron that resulted in the horribly devastating Bush years.

    November 20, 2011 at 2:45 pm | Reply
  12. SEAL Team Alpha and Omega

    I actually believe the stage will collapse from the weight of remorse and grief when these absolute ignorant GOP morons attempt to speak with an inkling of credibility and knowledge about U.S. National Security. I never watch a GOP debate, but this one I don’t want to miss because: 1) I’ve already seen all the SNL reruns; and 2), Missing this clown show can be equated with missing seeing the Hale-Bopp Comet when it passed Earth briefly – a once in a lifetime event you want to tell your grandkids about.

    November 20, 2011 at 2:36 pm | Reply
  13. Rich Zubaty

    These are the same people who gave us two tax cuts and a war, and are now complaining about deficits.

    November 20, 2011 at 12:39 pm | Reply
    • Howard

      The current Occupy Wall Street movement is the best illustration to date
      of what President Barack Obama's America looks like. It is an America
      where the lawless, unaccomplished, ignorant and incompetent rule. It is
      an America where those who have sacrificed nothing pillage and destroy
      the lives of those who have sacrificed greatly.

      It is an America where history is rewritten to honor dictators, murderers
      and thieves. It is an America where violence, racism, hatred, class warfare
      and murder are all promoted as acceptable means of overturning the American
      civil society.

      It is an America where humans have been degraded to the level of animals:
      defecating in public, having sex in public, devoid of basic hygiene. It is an
      America where the basic tenets of a civil society, including faith, family, a
      free press and individual rights, have been rejected. It is an America where
      our founding documents have been shredded and, with them, every person's
      guaranteed liberties.

      It is an America where, ultimately, great suffering will come to the American
      people, but the rulers like Obama, Michelle Obama, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi,
      Barney Frank, Chris Dodd, Joe Biden, Jesse Jackson, Louis Farrakhan, liberal
      college professors, union bosses and other loyal liberal/Communist Party members
      will live in opulent splendor.

      It is the America that Obama and the Democratic Party have created with the
      willing assistance of the American media, Hollywood , unions, universities, the
      Communist Party of America, the Black Panthers and numerous anti-American
      foreign entities.

      Barack Obama has brought more destruction upon this country in four years than
      any other event in the history of our nation, but it is just the beginning of what he
      and his comrades are capable of.

      The Occupy Wall Street movement is just another step in their plan for the
      annihilation of America .

      "Socialism, in general, has a record of failure so blatant that only an intellectual
      could ignore or evade it."

      Thomas Sowell

      November 20, 2011 at 1:48 pm | Reply
      • Steven Indepenent Veteran in NH

        Thomas, have you ever had a thought of your own? I pull up Fox News as well the NY Times, please go find out who are forefathers really were.

        November 20, 2011 at 3:58 pm |
      • simple truth

        The author of this comment hit the nail on the head about Occupy Wall Street and the damage Obama has done. The author of this should be a speech-writer because he really gets it.

        November 21, 2011 at 3:23 am |
      • Sam.DCS

        Howard, how come YOU and other GOPs speak vile things against this President? Considering he embodied what everyone wish to accomplish? Go to school, work hard while in school and graduate and many opportunities will come your way as a result. Please Howard listen to advice about your so-called founding fathers. They were bunch of thieves, criminal and ejects from other European Countries. Keep it in mind that your Almighty Constitution states that slavery is good and a black man is 1/3 of a MAN.
        Also, please check the meaning of Socialism before you bad mouth it.

        America use to be the greatest country 20+yrs ago where Capitalism and Socialism were balanced. I am from a Country where Capitalism is at its worst. A country where you fend for yourself: you provide electricity and clean water for your families; security; and ONLY the haves can afford to send their children to a private school and while the have not children are left behind because of bad non functional public schools.. In 20 more years from now if nothing change. My country will be run by illiterate government system and eventually implode or go back to being colonized again.

        OWS, are protesting against this looming fate for American but people like yourself and the less educated GOPs either refused to see this inevitability or just plain stupid to notice the darkness approaching.

        November 21, 2011 at 4:46 pm |
      • Hawk in Texas

        Boy, You are one sick puppy.

        November 22, 2011 at 11:26 pm |
    • SEAL Team Alpha and Omega

      BRAVO, Rich. BRAVO. No one could have said it any better. You are 100% correct. I'd like to see Fox Fixed Factless News refute that truth, but I cannot even stand to see their Fox logo at all. I cringe everytime I accidently see them on TV when I am out in public.

      Here, you should pass this on to your friends, relatives and neighbors . . . .

      WARNING: A pandemic has broken out in America. Thousands of Americans have contracted Tri-Polar Disorder DNA Mutant Inbred Hick One-Celled Brain Intelligence Deficient Puke Lung Midget Mind disease. The CDC has strong scientific evidence that this is caused by sitting in front of a TV screen when Fox News is on and watching it for more than one second. Another way to catch this debilitating disease is by listening to Rush Limbaugh on the radio for a period of more than 0.05 Nano-seconds. The CDC advises Americans to take precautions by never turning on Fox News or ever tuning their radio to any radio station that broadcasts the Rush Limbaugh show.

      If you believe you or anyone you know has been exposed to either Fox News or the Rush Limbaugh show, immediately contact an experienced Exorcist and have them waterboard you with Holy Water for 2 hours straight.

      Should this fail to rid you of this horrible contagious disease, you MUST gargle with sulfuric acid, douse yourself in gasoline and light a match in your throat or on your face. Because to do otherwise would cause this GOP disease to infect countless others causing the end of the world as we know it.

      November 20, 2011 at 2:43 pm | Reply
  14. Andrew

    These so called candidates have no real clue about foriegn policy or foriegn relations and they blatantly mischaracterize Obama and his track record to date. The problem is they have no real experience in these matters and it shows.

    November 20, 2011 at 12:17 pm | Reply
    • Texas Uncensored

      Ron Paul has expertise, and his policies are backed by CIA analysts, the head of the BinLaden unit, the Secretary of Defense for 22 years – Robert Gates, & the majority of active military. Ron Paul's policies are also exactly in line with the majority of Americans and the Constitution. His predictions made more than 2 decades ago about the mess the government was making both in foreign policy and economic policy have been proven true. Had they listened then, we would not be in this mess. He has the only plan to turn this ship around and put us on solid ground again. If Blitzer runs a fair debate, and gives Ron Paul equal time, he will blow away everyone else on stage with his common sense and brilliant, complete knowledge of foreign policy. The Fed and the crooks in government are afraid of him. Look him up, http://www.ronpaul2012DOTcom. RON PAUL 2012

      November 22, 2011 at 2:04 am | Reply
  15. TerryG

    I suspect these are the same people who told Sarah Palin she could see Russia from her front porch.

    November 20, 2011 at 12:03 pm | Reply
    • Hawk in Texas

      What she really saw was holiday inn.

      November 22, 2011 at 11:27 pm | Reply
  16. Amanda Wolf

    Brains? See wisdom and real intelligence are based on ethics, compassion and pity for the needy. Selfish ambition denotes "me, me, me first, second and last"so getting the republicans in the super committee to approve the tax cuts is an impossibility. 😦

    November 20, 2011 at 12:00 pm | Reply
  17. mtta

    Misuse of the criminal justice system for politically motivated persecutions are frequent in Russia (Mikhail Khodorkovsky) and China (Ai Weiwei). But never in the history of the world any leader persecuted credit rating agencies for downgrading their credit ratings. But that didn't stop Obama from persecuting S&P for making him look bad. Within a month of downgrading America's credit rating, its president has to step down and DOJ suddenly started persecuting S&P for its alleged role in the mortgage crisis. This is a President who has no respect for justice and democratic institutions in this country. He needs to go in 2012 or otherwise he will reduce this great nation to the level of Russia and China.

    November 20, 2011 at 11:56 am | Reply
    • Amanda Wolf

      It is not lack of respect at all, sir; rather the President legally let the super-committee handle the budget issue. Our Constitution gives the power of the purse to Congress, not to the White House. President Obama fulfilled our law neatly. 🙂
      Plus, every positive achievement of our President Obama, has been criticized and condemned by many republicans; so why not let them "solve" a tough issue? See, the failure of the super group is evidence of the congress's failure and divisive hostility.

      November 20, 2011 at 12:10 pm | Reply
      • Robert Fallin

        The supercommittee is NOT A LEGAL ENTITY. John Boehner, the "most effective Democrat in the House" sold out the American people with his budget sellout. The Ryan Plan was by no means the best the GOP had to offer; but, Newt Gingrich and Boehner helped scuttle even that. Boehner sabotaged a serious proposal by a New Jersey Republican that was far better than the Ryan Deal;; and Boehner wouldn't even consider Ron Paul's plan to cut a percentage from each department. The Tea Party could have held the line and voted against increasing Obama's spending authority.
        We were warned, if that happened, US credit would be downgraded and Obama threatened to withhold Social Security checks, something he had no authority to do. Remember the "Social Security Lock Box" created under Reagan and Tip O'Neil? So, Boehner and all but 22 Republicans sold out and US credit was downgraded and the bond and stock markets went into a tailspin. Ron Paul will take your challenge, Madame. Too bad he doesn't have but 22 Republicans with a full set of cajones.

        November 20, 2011 at 12:26 pm |
      • Hawk in Texas

        Amanda, You can preach and tell the truth til you are blue in the face, but you will never make a republican believe it. they have what i call locked brain syndrone. a democrat can do no good and a republican can do no wrong. that is what they think and believe.

        November 22, 2011 at 11:32 pm |
  18. lynn

    I don't think anyone outside of the Republican base considers Liz, and Dick Cheney as well as John Bolton ......"gets".

    Nor do I think most people when informed that Romney's team consists of former Bush administration members will look upon that team as someone we want dictating foreign policy.....exactly what were the foreign policy achievements of that administration?

    November 20, 2011 at 11:12 am | Reply
  19. matt mascaro

    Q: The national security brains behind the GOP candidates. A: The Scarecrow in the Wizard Of Oz. Looks like they all need that song.

    November 20, 2011 at 9:39 am | Reply
  20. Chipster

    How does Bachmann continue to make such false claims that the Health Care Reform Act allows Planned Parenthood to submit bills to the government to be paid for abortions? That's a blatant falsehood. No federal funds are allowed to be used to pay for abortion and health reform did nothing to change that. What Republicans are trying to do is banned private people from buying private insurance that will cover abortion costs if it's medically necessary. Health exchanges merely provide an opportunity for individuals to bargain for group rates on private insurance. Bachmann's list of lies is getting so long, we could make a book of them. Santorum is worse. He wants Catholic doctors to be allowed to simple let a woman die if the only thing that can save her life is an abortion! I guess the only exception to Santorum's pro-life position is a pregnant woman. She's apparently disposable to him. I'm fearful of these members of the American Taliban.

    November 20, 2011 at 9:00 am | Reply
    • Amanda Wolf

      Yes, I aborted and had to pay 200 hundred dollars or 300 for it; the Planned Parenthood lady explained her group was a private institution founded by the feminist group.

      November 20, 2011 at 12:16 pm | Reply
      • Chipster

        Planned Parenthood was started by a suffragette Margaret Sanger as a birth control and family planning organization called American Birth Control League for the purpose of preventing unwanted pregnancies. As most white people of her day, she believed that lighter skinned races were superior but she didn't tolerate bigotry in her clinics and worked with many African American professionals, including a board member. Birth control and education has reduced the number of unwanted pregnancies and abortions. Religious zealots, like Santorum want to force their beliefs on women who may not even share his chosen faith. That's sort of "Bin Laden" of him, don't you think? The Catholic church doesn't have the right to dictate medical procedures in the United States. No woman should be forced to have an abortion or denied one if she and her doctor determine it's appropriate for her health and well-being. You know, almost as if she were a real person with constitutional rights.

        November 20, 2011 at 5:12 pm |
      • Amanda Wolf

        I think Planned Parenthood accepts donations but that is all, no steady or formal government contributions.

        November 21, 2011 at 1:30 pm |
  21. mtta

    Obama had better chances in 2008 as an unknown demagog. Now he is a known failure with a battered economy and high unemployment as his track record. He's got some foreign policy successes but those don't put food on the table for American citizens. Even on the foreign policy front, he exhibited more eagerness to free his Muslim brothers in Libya than understands Israel's existential threat from Iran. His Defense Secretary recently took the line of Russians and the Chinese in preferring sanctions and diplomatic solution instead of military strike. Iran is this close to obtaining nuclear weapons after years of sanctions and diplomatic efforts but the Obama administration wants to pursue the same failed policies over and over again. Sounds familiar? Obama spent the first half of his term doggedly pursuing misguided policies which put the country further into debt. Now he's spending the rest of his term touring the country on public money and bribing different interest groups with " their own money". His first term is almost over and we have yet to see one single domestic legislation he pursues in the long-term interest of American citizens, not tainted by his re-election efforts. Mending roads, bridges and schools, for example, creates short-term employment while lowering tuition costs for higher education helps American citizens in the long run. Didn't he say we have to retool ourselves to stay competitive in the global market? Where is this much needed help for the unemployment seeking new skills because some of their jobs are never coming back?

    November 20, 2011 at 8:45 am | Reply
    • Steven Indepenent Veteran in NH

      The truth is the republicans spent 8 years destroying the american economy. If one person could do all you say President Obama has done we should get of that position. On the other hand, the more you speak against the president the more I realize you have nothing to say for the Republican candidates. I listen to them but the only one that makes a bit of sense is Ron Paul. Cain and Perry are like a chicken with its head cut off they are running around the barn yard flapping their wings and don't reliaze it is all over for them. Next time try coming up with something to say that doesn't resemble the Republican Spew.

      November 20, 2011 at 9:03 am | Reply
    • Chipster

      The President hasn't been able to pass anything that the Republican Congress believes will succeed. If you want to know why the President hasn't gotten much done, take a look at all the jobs bills and other legislation that has been blocked, blocked, blocked by a Republican Congress that has clearly stated that their single and only priority is to bring down this President. Prior to the GOP victory in Congress, the President succeeding in passing health care reform and consumer protection from predatory banking practices that has helped hundreds of thousands of Americans. The GOP wants to reverse those policies and help banks, insurance companies, and pharmaceutical companies at our expense. Pre-existing conditions, exorbitant bank fees, dismantling Medicare and Social Security, apologizing to BP for asking them to pay for damages in the Gulf? If that's what you want, vote for the GOP.

      November 20, 2011 at 9:08 am | Reply
    • Amanda Wolf

      Nope :)))))) rather, President Obama rescued America from a 1930's like big Depression. Can't you conservatives understand that?

      November 20, 2011 at 12:19 pm | Reply
      • Robert Fallin

        Wrong. We are in a "1930s style depression" as a result of the bad decisions made by George W. Bush, Hank Paulson, Barack Obama, Tim Geithner and Ben Bernanke.

        November 20, 2011 at 2:55 pm |
    • Chipster

      The President is touring the country to campaign for his jobs bill to try to get the public to pressure their Congressmen to support creating jobs; something Republicans campaigned on but have done nothing about so far. They've attempted to stop gay marriage, abortion, and a crazy bill the would allow Catholic hospitals to stand idle and let a woman die rather than perform an abortion that would save her life! Isn't it clear that a woman's life means nothing to them? When Bush had a majority in the House and Senate, what was the result of their effort to ban abortion? Oh, that's right they made NO attempt to ban abortion!!! It's their cash cow and 'vote' butter. They'll never ban it.

      November 20, 2011 at 5:22 pm | Reply
    • Sam.DCS

      Mtta and Robert. Do you actually believe what you posted? Please explain how you can blame a man that non of his policies shows any spending increase or an increase in our national debt? Health Care Reform aka, ObamCare, will not even kick into gear until Jan 2014. How as that increase the National Debt? Over 350 Bills was blocked by the Congress and Senate and yet you blame the President. Are all Republicans uninformed, calling them dumb or stupid would be too ash.
      Can't they observe the realities of things before making such vile statements? GOP law makers stated "Their ONLY goal is to denial President Obama his 2nd term” Which can be interpreted in many ways:
      1. We will do everything to sabotage any effort to improve the economy
      2. We will oppose everything he proposed.
      3. We will inspire violence against him, hoping a nut case will take the calling
      4. We will call him Socialist (Since many Americans are ignorant of the meaning anyway).
      5. We will demeaning him or delegitimize his presidency(Not one of us-he's from Kenya) and much more.
      As you can see, these people will do everything to bring this President down, an action that hasn't been seen ever in the history of the American politics.
      Items 1-5 I listed here has been carried out by the GOP and some simple minded (dumb ass) Republicans. It is so interesting that these simpletons are advocating against their own interest. How can anyone in their right mind be advocating for such?

      November 23, 2011 at 1:58 pm | Reply
  22. sILVERBUG

    Hey FRED, If you are so smart why have you not figured out that this BIG GOVT you think we need is $200 Trillion in DEBT when you add everything up? 70% of the DEBT is INTEREST. Your education is antiquated and is collapsing and has never worked in all of history.

    November 20, 2011 at 7:52 am | Reply
    • Amanda Wolf

      Walker Biush started the policies that led to massive unemployment, factories going abroad and firing millions of American workers. If a turkey burns, the cook is the responsible one, NOT THE WAITER. Not to tip the waiter is very unjust and stupid.

      November 20, 2011 at 12:25 pm | Reply
  23. dwave

    The Republican is in disarray. No clear Republican leader has emerged so far.

    November 20, 2011 at 6:40 am | Reply
    • Fred M.

      It's not disarray. It's the base fracturing along ideological lines.

      The GOP base is a bunch of special interest groups, many of which have opposing interests. What do opposition to taxes, homophobia, xenophobia, evangelical Christianity, opposition to health care reform, opposition to abortion, rejection of science, hatred of governments, opposition to gun control and bigotry against minorities have in common? Just about nothing. And that's why it's so hard to find a candidate that satisfies a majority of GOP voters.

      November 20, 2011 at 7:26 am | Reply
    • NHWoman

      The party doesn't have to be on the same lines right now. If they were, there would be no choice. The candidates also can't reveal everything in their hand because if they do, someone else will adopt it and they might do it better. The Democrats behaved the same way in the last election.

      November 20, 2011 at 7:55 am | Reply
    • Amanda Wolf

      To DWAVE: I AGREE. RIGHT ON SIR, CHEERS AND BEST LUCK TO RE-ELECT PRESIDENT OBAMA 🙂 VIVA PRESIDENT OBAMA :)))RA -RA-RA

      November 20, 2011 at 12:28 pm | Reply
    • Chipster

      It would be laughable that they're now turning to an adulterer, sexual harasser (by his own words during the Clinton impeachment), violator of Congressional ethics rules to the tune of $300,000 in fines, and now a lobbyist who earned $1.6 million from Feddie Mac! Except it's too tragic because the games they play are harmful to our country and working people. That high horse the GOP rides is sinking lower and lower every day. Pathetic! Do Republicans even have a sense of irony?

      November 20, 2011 at 5:30 pm | Reply
      • Robert Fallin

        I agree. How can you trust a serial adulterer to keep his oath or his word on anything?

        November 20, 2011 at 6:08 pm |
    • Texas Uncensored

      There is a clear leader, and the media has been pretending he doesn't exist. That clear front runner is Ron Paul. He has won the majority of the straw polls & has the most total votes combined. He has won every major legitimate debate poll by overwhelming numbers, usually landslides. He has won almost all unique vote online polls by landslides. He also has the most contributions made by American citizens, not corporations, hundreds of thousands of American citizens contributing. He has twice as much in donations from active military as all of the other GOP candidates combined, and more in active military donations that all the other GOP and Obama combined. The military has chosen their next Commander in Chief, and they want Ron Paul. Those are the factors that make a real front runner. The media is lying to you, to the American people because they are owned by the same corporations who get big contracts with the military industrial complex – which is funded by counterfiet money printed by the FED – which gets put on our backs as debt for the never ending wars that all the GOP candidates and Obama claim to want. BTW, do you plan to give up your kids or grandkids to fight in their illegal and unprovoked wars of aggression? Do you really want to pay for that out of your pocket? Now here is the sweet deal for the media owners who also work for the military industrial complex. These corporations also profit by increased viewers because of war, their other companies take out ads and get more customers, which again feed the corporations, the military industrial complex, and the FED. Don't you want that to end?
      Vote for RON PAUL 2012. He's the only one we can trust, the only one who has been consistent in his positions, the only one who exposed the FED and the neocons, and the only one who knows how. RON PAUL 2012

      November 22, 2011 at 2:21 am | Reply
      • Sam.DCS

        Sorry Texas Uncensored.. I disagree with you to some extent buddy. Ron Paul refused to face reality in some of his views. Example, government shouldn't come to the rescue during major disasters, leave it to the community to care for each other-remember that? But here is the problem with that, many people in the communities are out of Job and many are probably very low in cash to sustain themselves let alone to render assistance to others.

        November 23, 2011 at 2:46 pm |
      • Robert Fallin

        Well, Sam, the reason people are out of jobs and have little money to spare is because government has stolen so much from us, misallocated the money it has stolen from us and protected the people that destroyed our economy and our jobs.
        Government is the enemy. It cannot be trusted to save us from the disasters it has created. Better to put our faith in those in our communities who share with us willingly. Funny, isn't it? Govenment has plenty of money to oppress us and threaten the world, but not enough to refund much of what it has stolen from us.

        November 23, 2011 at 7:21 pm |
  24. Wildone

    Like Igor, the GOP has mistakenly chosen the wrong brain and now the American people have to deal with the monster they have created.

    November 20, 2011 at 5:36 am | Reply
    • Amanda Wolf

      Well, Torquemada (the bishop who started the onerous inquisition in Spain) was human and had brains, however that did not prevent him to murder thousands of innocent people.

      November 20, 2011 at 12:33 pm | Reply
  25. B R T

    Republicans COULD win the WH if they stopped pandering to to the extemeities of "Christianity" and "Tea." Tea parties are cute when you"re 3 years old. Letr's "occupy": cuz we overly spoiled brats that never been spanked. Good lord, which is worse?

    November 20, 2011 at 4:53 am | Reply
    • Fred M.

      The Occupy Wall Street movement is a valid protest against the radical redistribution of wealth, a redistribution in which the top 1% have seen their income triple during a time in which the middle class has seen their income stagnant. It's a protest against special tax loopholes for businesses and the wealthy that let them get out of paying their fair share while leaving the rest of us to pay for the debt that we are accruing, as a nation, to fund their tax loopholes.

      Your fantasies about spanking people to discourage free speech are disturbing.

      November 20, 2011 at 7:38 am | Reply
      • mike c

        I could not agree more that the Occupy movement has a valid ground. Their problem is articulation of their voice and means of a resolution to there qualms. I wish they would occupy a library and discover a modus operandi for their task.

        November 20, 2011 at 9:28 am |
    • Amanda Wolf

      Not reallly, the higher they rise, the harder they fall. And their chances are over, they have abused President Obama and millions of Americans; it is time for them to go. In fact the tea party is apparently their supporter; however it is becoming their competitor and possibly their political substitute.

      November 20, 2011 at 12:40 pm | Reply
    • SEAL Team Alpha and Omega

      I actually believe the stage will collapse from the heavy weight of remorse and grief when these absolute ignorant GOP morons attempt to speak with an inkling of credibility and knowledge about U.S. National Security. I never watch a GOP debate, but this one I don’t want to miss because: 1) I’ve already seen all the SNL reruns; and 2), Missing this clown show can be equated with missing seeing the Hale-Bopp Comet when it passed Earth briefly – a once in a lifetime event you want to tell your grandkids about.

      November 20, 2011 at 2:49 pm | Reply
  26. B R T

    Hmmm...Who does a blue dog in Chicago viote for?

    Hmmmm...even this blue dog dem voted for biatch balls in the primaries, and Obama got the nom. Run a REAL woman for the presidency dimocrats, a women with balls.....

    November 20, 2011 at 4:33 am | Reply
    • Amanda Wolf

      Dont you have any decent and respectful comments, or are insulting all you can do? Where are your brains?

      November 20, 2011 at 12:43 pm | Reply
  27. jason

    “When the federal government spends more each year than it collects in tax revenues, it has three choices: It can raise taxes, print money, or borrow money. While these actions may benefit politicians, all three options are bad for average Americans.”
    ― Ron Paul

    “A system of capitalism presumes sound money, not fiat money manipulated by a central bank. Capitalism cherishes voluntary contracts and interest rates that are determined by savings, not credit creation by a central bank.”
    ― Ron Paul

    “America was born of protest, revolution, and mistrust of government. “
    ― Ron Paul in

    Ron Paul has more donations from military personnel than Obama, and more than all of the other candidates put together. He will use war savings to fix social security, among other things that make sense. Give him more than 89 seconds of your time, please.

    November 20, 2011 at 4:19 am | Reply
    • Fred M.

      Ron Paul is a shill for big business and the wealthy. His agenda is simple: Corporations, and the wealthy who control them, should be free to do whatever they want, without regulation or government oversight. The "free market" will magically fix everything that's wrong if we do that.

      If we just give big tax breaks to the top 1%, who have seen their income almost triple since 1979, the economy will magically right itself. The other part of his economic plan is to lay of millions of government workers into an economy with massive unemployment. Then when those workers stop spending money at restaurants, retail stores, and local service providers - somehow that's going to help the economy.

      I'm tired of the stupidity about raising taxes being "bad for Americans." Raising taxes, so that we stop incurring debt, and so that we can continue to provide important services which improve our standard of living and our safety, is good for Americans. What do you think happens to tax dollars? The government pays salaries to government workers, who then spend that money in the economy. The government also buy goods and services from American businesses (ask Lockheed Martin if they'd like to stop receiving contracts to build military aircraft).

      Ron Paul and his supporters need to move to that Libertarian paradise: Somalia. No taxes. No government. No gun control. Yeah, that's worked out real well, hasn't it?

      November 20, 2011 at 5:51 am | Reply
      • Raj

        I could not agree more

        November 20, 2011 at 7:55 am |
      • Chipster

        You don't even have to raise taxes, just let the Bush tax cuts expire as they were supposed to have done years ago. The GOP fantasy that they sold to an uninformed public was that the tax cuts for the wealthy would create jobs. It didn't, it hasn't and it won't. Now, their best plan is to tax (dismantle) Social Security and Medicare (cutting benefits = TAX). Seniors paid for their benefits and the program is solvent through 2036. Even if nothing is changed with the program, 77% of benefits could be paid then as boomers die off. Raise the cap! I contribute to SS & MC on every dollar I earn. Why does someone earning more than $106,800 stop paying into the program when they reach that magic cap? Why don't they pay on every dollar they earn? It wouldn't take much to ensure benefits well beyond 2036 but the GOP has always treated SS and MC as a handout but beneficiaries paid for their benefits. They ARE entitled to them!

        November 20, 2011 at 7:34 pm |
      • Texas Uncensored

        You win tonights prize for the worst informed about what Ron Paul's policies are. It wasn't easy to choose the winner, but somehow you did it. You could surf to ronpaul2012DOTcom and educate yourself. But, I bet you won't. Ignorant rhetoric based on the smoke you blow we all know where is ever so much more fun. Right? LOL
        If you want to spar with Ron Paul supporters who are extremely well informed, uninformed rhetoric is not your friend.
        But Google still is. Google Ron Paul.

        November 22, 2011 at 2:27 am |
      • Amanda Wolf

        hahahaham "least informed? I doubt it. However, coming from such source, it is an honor :))))))))))))))

        November 23, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
      • Amanda Wolf

        Stop playing games, will you?

        November 23, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
    • Amanda Wolf

      Oh? too much defense cuts leaves America more vulnerable to international terrorism, plus women kidnapped and killed, or raped. Rather ending big wars, or limiting our interventions would save millions and help foreign countries to defend themselves.

      Poor Run Paul, he still lives in 1920 or the thirites; all he talks about is gold. God, paul, gold....they all rhyme,...no wonder. It seems he is buying a stairway to heaven. I doubt he will loose.

      November 20, 2011 at 12:51 pm | Reply
      • Amanda Wolf

        OOps! i meant run paul will loose 🙂

        November 20, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
      • Chipster

        Ron Paul doesn't think we need a national standard for education and that states should be able to create 50 different education systems. So, when they graduate from school in one state, maybe they won't qualify for higher education or a job in another state. Maybe SC teaches the Bible and evolution while students in NC are taught reading, math, engineering....whose going to get a job? Paul also thinks each person is responsible for cleaning up the mess and recovering from natural disasters. Take a look at the damage from the tornado in Joplin or Irene and Lee – what do you think that would look like? How long would recovery take without the resources of FEMA, Coast Guard, DOD....? I believe a quicker recovery is in the best interest of the nation. We are one nation – not 50 countries.

        November 20, 2011 at 7:42 pm |
      • Amanda Wolf

        I agree, Paul is a national danger and very divisive.

        November 21, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
  28. DoNotWorry

    So which of their vaunted policy advisors had them stand up in front of the world on television and support torture?

    November 20, 2011 at 4:16 am | Reply
    • jacob

      ALL. ohh except that one guy..what is his name again. He's that Texas Congressman, can't remember..but yeah, him.

      November 20, 2011 at 4:18 am | Reply
      • jason

        RON PAUL

        November 20, 2011 at 4:21 am |
  29. Dave

    If any of these bozos gets into office, this country is toast. It will make W's two terms look like a cake walk.

    November 20, 2011 at 4:12 am | Reply
    • Chipster

      How does the GOP convince people that so much false information is true? How do they get them to vote against their own best interest? Too many people just believe whatever nonsense that makes them angry and feeling like victims but so much of what's being said is at least distorted or simply false. They believe without bothering to check the facts. The comment the President made about the govt & some U.S. businesses being complacent and "lazy" about developing markets overseas – somehow the GOP sells that to Americans that the President said they're lazy! That's absolutely 100% intentionally misleading! How do they sleep? How do they pray? "Dear Lord, please don't let my voters check the facts?" Is that it?

      November 20, 2011 at 7:49 pm | Reply
      • Amanda Wolf

        I read that a lie repeated long enough, convinces naive people, look at the tea party members, they prove how ignorant masses end up believing outrageous claims. The radicals want to destroy medicare, ironically the group against President Obama is largely old and wealthy. They cannot see they are hurting their prospects. Look at Run Paul.

        November 21, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
  30. Rufoscoe

    All I can hear is a collective 'Duhhhhh".

    November 20, 2011 at 3:59 am | Reply
  31. jacob

    wow. the last paragraph was the most unbiased CNN journalism i've ever read. and thanks for minimalizing the constituional perspective into one sentence. brilliant journalism, absolutely brilliant.

    November 20, 2011 at 3:56 am | Reply
  32. carlos

    RONald reVOLUTIION PAUL 2012

    November 20, 2011 at 3:35 am | Reply
    • Fred M.

      Ron Paul would be our ticket to becoming a third world country. First world countries have powerful, functioning, governments and regulatory bodies, most of which Ron Paul would gut. He's an idiot and so are his supporters.

      November 20, 2011 at 5:56 am | Reply
      • yeahoksure

        I feel sorry for you Fred.. thats all...

        November 20, 2011 at 6:16 am |
      • Fred M.

        Don't feel sorry for me. I'm much better educated, more intelligent, and more insightful than you are.

        November 20, 2011 at 6:39 am |
      • M.D.

        I'm with you Fed. I think Ron Paul has the correct targets in sight, but his proposed solutions are far too extreme.

        November 21, 2011 at 5:19 am |
  33. Fred M.

    What's next, CNN? The Kardashian Brain Trust? The Jersey Shore Brain Trust?

    November 20, 2011 at 2:52 am | Reply
  34. Dave

    Brain and Trust are two words that should never go along with GOP in the same sentence.

    November 20, 2011 at 2:11 am | Reply
  35. amac

    Isn't "GOP brain trust" an oxymoron? Oxymorons just like the candidates themselves?

    November 20, 2011 at 2:06 am | Reply
  36. Terry

    This is really scary. The GOP better get this under control.

    November 20, 2011 at 1:13 am | Reply
  37. Marla

    You mean to tell me that the GOTP actually has a brain?

    November 20, 2011 at 12:47 am | Reply
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